Author's Note: The third and final part of Stargazing. I hope you've enjoyed this short story. Thanks so much for reading xoxo
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Harry Potter franchise.
At first, Hermione wondered when he slept. But over the following months the answer became apparent: almost never.
She knew he was plagued with nightmares, too. She didn't ask what they were about – partly because she could guess and partly because she didn't want to know. She knew he rarely slept because he couldn't find the peace to.
On the good nights, he played beautiful music for her or taught her lessons. Octaves and scales and arpeggios. Sometimes she stopped by the room on her own to practice.
On the bad nights, she would find him in an empty classroom, half drowned in a bottle. It was as if he didn't want to darken the room where he kept the piano he loved to play, with those memories he couldn't escape. He would clutch her hand like a lifeline and gaze at her, his ragged breathing harshly expelled, mingling with hers.
And sometimes, when she knew he was ready to break and he needed her to hold him together, she did just that.
She could see in his eyes the words he couldn't express; the gratitude that she didn't leave him to face his demons alone.
On the nights in between, they would talk.
Of classes and Quidditch; of how immature they had been to one another as adolescents; sometimes even of the war. Malfoy would ask about her Muggle childhood and tell her about his aristocratic upbringing. He regaled her with tales of Lucius when he had been a boy; how his father hadn't always been so cold. Hermione shared how she had felt when she learned she was a witch.
He listened like what she had to say was everything that had ever mattered. He laughed and sometimes he smiled and he absently drew patterns over her clothes or her skin with his fingertips, as if physical contact gave him the energy he so needed, as if it grounded him. Maybe it did.
Sometimes her presence was enough for him to drift off into a fitful sleep and they would awake early the following morning, face to face, limbs entangled on a transfigured couch.
And Hermione, for her part, savoured his company, because he understood her better than she ever could have imagined. Because the way his eyes lit up when she walked in, whether a good night or bad, assured her she wasn't alone.
As the first hints of spring broke over Hogwarts castle and the air became mild and fresh, Hermione climbed the steps to the owlery, to see the view which overlooked the forest just so.
She looked up in surprise at the flash of platinum as Malfoy joined her at the large opening in the stone wall. He gestured in explanation as his eagle owl flew off with a scroll of parchment. She nodded vaguely to the grounds beyond in return.
"You look different in daylight," Hermione mused, a smile playing at her lips.
"As do you," he agreed. "You're far less pale than I've grown used to."
"You're just as pale as I always believed," she replied. He laughed with a self-deprecating sort of shrug.
"That shouldn't come as a surprise," he said with something between a smirk and a smile. He trailed his fingers across the small of her back, resting his forehead against the side of her temple. "How are you feeling?"
"Good," Hermione said, smiling as a gentle breeze whispered through the tower. "You?"
"Better than I can remember feeling in years," he murmured, staring at her.
Her heart fluttered at his words; a memory of the haunted wraith of a person he had been months before floated distantly through her mind.
"That's so good," Hermione breathed.
He nuzzled her neck for a moment before looking out the window once more. He leaned one arm on the opening, the other still playing absently about her back, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. Hermione felt a shiver chase her spine as his fingers brushed her bare skin.
"It's as if a shade was cast over my mind for so long," he said with a long exhale, the words sounding pained. "And it's finally lifting away."
"You're starting to let go," Hermione said with a sidelong glance at him. His brow furrowed as he gazed unseeingly at the lake in the distance. "To forgive yourself." He shot her a look of consternation. "And that's okay, you know."
"Right," he said, frowning. "Thank you. For everything."
She knew 'everything' was simultaneously too fine and too expansive to cover it. But she understood the sentiment innately.
"And you," she murmured, a vague smile on her face. Getting to know Malfoy had done more for her well-being than he knew. She thought there was a part of her that had grown to love his flaws and his dreadfully sharp edges.
The hand on her back shifted to her hip, drawing her closer. Hermione looked at him and he was gazing at her with an intensity she couldn't read.
He dropped his head and brushed his lips to her jaw, a ghost of a caress so soft she might have imagined it but for he pressed another beside it, turning to her. A breath caught in her throat and Hermione's eyelids fluttered as he cupped her face, trailing his lips across her skin and everywhere he touched sent shockwaves of molten energy racing through her blood.
She twisted her fingers in his pale blond hair as his lips met hers. A sharp intake of breath slipped her mouth, eyes almost instantly prickling with moisture. His teeth bit down on her lower lip and his tongue swept hers.
It wasn't gentle but carnal; the culmination of months of being so near, of wanting but refraining, and Hermione let go of that side of her that she had held in as she clutched him and he grasped her, crushing her against the lean lines of his body.
He kissed her, a man dying of thirst as his tongue clashed with hers and his lips claimed her skin and he caught her pulse with his teeth, drawing a whimper from some place within her soul.
"Hermione," he breathed, the utteration of her name falling from his lips like satin as he dropped kisses to her collarbone.
"I guess this is the part where you kiss me," she whispered, watching him through heavily lidded eyes, and she somehow found herself against a solid part of the wall.
"And ravage you," he agreed, sucking the flesh of her neck into his mouth.
"And –" she left the word hanging, swallowing.
"And fuck you into the wall," he breathed in her ear, adding a bite to the lobe.
"So hard I scream myself hoarse on your name, wasn't it?" she finished, hearing the waver in her own voice.
"That was it," he said with a low chuckle, meeting her gaze. "Merlin, I was out of my mind that night. But yet, I meant most of it."
She only said, heart racing, "not the wall."
He inclined his head, lips parted, intrigue dancing in his eyes. "Not the wall," he acquiesced. "Not yet."
Hermione trailed her fingers over his defined, yet masculine, cheekbone, searching his beautiful grey eyes. "Tonight."
"Okay," he said simply, his eyes feasting on her as he smirked and squeezed her arse. "I anticipate it highly, dear Granger."
Hermione exhaled a shaky breath as she pushed open the door to his piano room that night. Instantly the music washed over her as she crossed the demarcated line where his silencio began.
That smile, that light in his eyes she waited all day to see, crossed his face as she slipped onto the bench beside him. Because the night, with all its darkness and moonlight, was theirs.
His fingers danced, flawlessly as ever, across the keys as he tilted his head in acknowledgement, a murmured "hi."
He finished the piece he was playing with a delicate flourish, his hands lingering over the keys as the last notes faded.
"Hello," she breathed in return, heart pounding furiously against her ribcage.
"I thought you might try playing this," he said, placing a sheet of music on the piano. His hand slid up her thigh, his grey eyes penetrating her own, but nothing else indicated what had occurred between them in the owlery.
"Okay," she nodded, swallowing. She looked at the sheets, understanding vaguely where to begin on the rudimentary piece.
Hesitantly she pressed the first few keys. It was a little beyond where her skill level was at but slowly she worked through it.
"Good," he murmured, sweeping her hair to her opposite shoulder. "Beautiful."
She didn't know to what he referred. He gripped her side, his fingers trailing up her ribs as he dropped a kiss to her collarbone.
Hermione froze, her fingers pausing mid-air as she glanced at him; he sucked at a delicate spot beneath the curve of her neck and it was enough to ignite her blood, her core clenching in anticipation. Goosebumps erupted across her skin.
"Play for me," he murmured into her throat.
Hermione forced herself to narrow in on the music even as the notes blurred together, while he continued his delicate, teasing torture. He kissed his way up her jaw, his hot breath in her ear causing her to squirm.
"Focus," he breathed, admonishing. "Sit forward."
She did as he asked, shifting forward to the front of the bench. He swung a leg around her so that his thighs framed hers, his chest pressed mercilessly against her back.
If she had found it difficult to concentrate before, it was nothing in comparison, with his fingers ghosting along her arms and her thighs.
One of his hands unbuttoned the soft cardigan she wore, playing with the hem of her top. He hummed in appreciation at the view he was afforded down the front of her shirt; a glimpse of her lacy bra and an alluring hint of cleavage.
The other hand drifted to the waist of her jeans, tantalizing, slipping the button free and dragging the zipper down.
Hermione grasped his knee for support when a hand slid into the front of her jeans, one finger flicking the sensitive bundle of nerves through her knickers.
"You aren't done your song, Granger," he scolded softly in her ear, even as his other hand came up to cup her breast, massaging it gently.
"Yes I am," she panted, as his fingers slipped inside her knickers. She could feel the smirk against her ear at how ready she was for him.
Malfoy withdrew both hands and carefully removed her cardigan, dropping light, teasing kisses to her throat. Hermione tried to move, to turn to him, but he held her firm. She sunk a hand into his hair, angling his face toward hers and his lips met hers easily.
A hand slid inside her bra, deftly tweaking the nipple and Hermione nearly whimpered into his mouth as he kissed her thoroughly, every stroke of his tongue on hers setting Hermione ablaze.
He pulled back, lifting the shirt over her head before attacking her again, harder this time, his restraint breaking.
He stood from the bench, bringing her with him and when he pulled away he simply gazed at her, his eyes smouldering softly as they met hers.
"You're fucking beautiful," he murmured, his brow furrowed. With a non-verbal wave of his wand, a desk along the far wall turned into a large bed. Glancing behind her, Hermione swallowed and he caught the movement. "You're sure?"
"Yes," she whispered.
As she stared at him, the air between them felt heavy, as if their need was a physical entity, pulsing in time to the desperate cadence of her heart.
Without a word of warning he scooped her up and dropped her onto the bed, climbing atop her. Hermione slipped the buttons of his shirt, pushing the fine material from his shoulders as he shrugged it off.
He removed her jeans, sitting back on his heels to drink her in, chunks of his pale, moonlit hair obscuring his eyes.
"Fucking beautiful," he repeated in the faintest whisper, to himself more than anything.
He dropped forward again, kissing her, their breaths mingling as he slid two fingers inside her, groaning aloud at the sensation.
"Draco," she breathed, his given name slipping her mouth as his thumb met that sensitive bundle of nerves. He hummed and kissed her harder, a hand in her hair as his other worked her over, teasingly.
Distractedly, Hermione reached for his trousers, pushing them from his hips and he shuddered when she grasped the hard length of him.
He drew back, his breath heavy and met her eyes. His stormy gaze was heated, glazed with lust, heavily-lidded as he stared at her.
Carefully, he removed the remaining material between them and Hermione held his gaze as she was bared to him, lit only by the faint moonlight.
She cried out as he sheathed himself fully, his breathing ragged as he buried his face in her shoulder. And as he began to move, she felt him, keenly, with every fibre of her being. In each thrust was absolution and redemption and she remembered when he was no more than a shell as his name ghosted her lips.
She clung to him, her nails scratching down his back and he loosed a low growl, pushing her ever nearer that glorious release as he held her and kissed her, her heart racing furiously toward that end. Time became nothing but a whisper as she felt only him.
And as she broke over him, cresting that wave of pleasure, he breathed her name, his own release finding him as well.
She lay in his arms afterwards, him drawing absent patterns on her bare skin as her breathing slowed and she gazed at him. He was everything she had ever wanted but never knew she needed.
He kissed her soundly on the lips, his grey eyes meeting hers as he drew back. He ran his fingertips along her lips, her cheekbones, the curve of her brow.
"Come with me to Hogsmeade tomorrow," he murmured. "I want to see you in the daylight."
"Are you sure?" she asked, a shallow breath held.
"Yes." He kissed her again. His expression grew heavy. "I was ruined when you found me that night, Hermione. I don't know where I'd be now if you hadn't. I want every part of you, if you'll have me."
Hermione blinked as his words washed over her. She knew, somehow, he had saved her, too. Through all those nights spent together, the good and the bad. The lessons and the firewhisky and the hours and hours spent talking.
"Absolutely," she breathed.
"Good." His eyes turned mischievous as he stared at her, his lips curving into a tantalizing smirk and as Hermione opened her mouth, he was gone beneath the covers and when his tongue grazed her inner thigh, her mouth promptly fell shut.
Four months later
Hermione entwined her fingers with Draco's, defiantly, ignoring the glares and the scandalized whispers of the patrons along Diagon Alley's high street.
His hand sat loosely in hers, as if it didn't quite belong there, and some of his aristocratic swagger was missing as he returned the stares, his eyes dark.
Hermione merely stepped in closer, and when his eyes flickered to her, some of the heaviness in his brow lifted, and his hand clenched hers.
"Ignore them," Hermione breathed.
It was the first time either of them had been to Diagon Alley since they had left Hogwarts. Hermione couldn't tell if more people seemed angry at him for his involvement in the war – or at her, for her involvement with him. She didn't particularly care either way; they didn't know him as she had grown to.
"That could have been a lot worse," she said softly, looking up at him. He scoffed, but a hint of a smirk crossed his lips.
"I don't see how," he bit out, rolling his eyes. "Those two will never accept you being with me."
They had entered Diagon Alley following a tense and rather volatile lunch with Harry and Ron at the Leaky Cauldron. Ron had dropped numerous loathsome comments, while Harry had spent the duration glaring at Draco, his eyes narrowed and focused on every movement the blond made.
"They could have hexed you," Hermione said, attempting to lighten the atmosphere. "They'll come around. Once they get to know you better."
He released her hand, looping his arm casually around her back, his fingers squeezing her hip.
"Whatever you say," he murmured, visibly relaxing. He dropped a light kiss to her temple, ignoring the outraged gasp of a woman nearby. "I suppose the only opinion that really matters is yours."
"Right," Hermione breathed, reaching up to trace a hand across his face. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "And your mother's."
He barked out a laugh. "You'll have to meet her, next."
"I can't wait," Hermione said weakly.
But she had grown to trust him, with her mind, her body, her heart. She never could have imagined how well they fit together, how much they had grown to depend on one another.
"It'll be fine," he assured her with a grin. "She'll love you."
He had become her friend, her confidant, her lover. Her unexpected brightness in a dark and uncertain world.
"Not as much as I love you, of course," he added quietly, dropping a brief kiss to her lips.
"I should hope not," Hermione said softly. She felt a smile tug at her lips. Absently she said, "or as much as I love you."
"Which is, of course, far less than my extreme affection for you," he said flippantly, breaking into a game they sometimes played. She stomped his foot and he lightly kicked her shin in return.
"Which pales in comparison to how greatly I am enamoured of you," she replied lightly.
"It could never be so," he said quietly, turning to her, his expression serious. "Because I didn't save you as you saved me."
Hermione just stared at him, her heart swelling. If only he knew.